Adapted from : from the masters
by Rabbi Yossi Marcus
Yaakov sent messengers before him to Eisav his brother…"
is known that Yaakov stems from the composed world of Tikkun, while Eisav
stems from the chaotic and intense world of Tohu (Arizal).
The lights of Tohu transcend
those of Tikkun. Their intensity causes their vessels to shatter. Hence
the fallen sparks of Tohu, which manifest in such lowly phenomena as the
personality of the wicked Eisav. In his source, Eisav transcends Yaakov.
He is the first-born. Hence, Yaakov sent messengers before him—
literally: to a place that was “before” and beyond Yaakov, the world of
Yaakov thought that the earthly
Eisav had already been realigned with his source; that the intense energy
of Tohu had been redirected from a passion for self-indulgence toward
a passion for the Divine. He therefore sent messengers to Eisav, to draw
upon himself the lofty lights of Tohu and assimilate them into the composed
world of Tikkun.
The message Yaakov sent with
his messengers—who were actual angels—was that through his years of working
with Lavan, he had fully developed his world, the world of Tikkun.
He had been merely a “sojouner”
with Lavan, a “stranger,” aloof and estranged from the trap of an earthly
consciousness, and was therefore able to perform the 613 mitzvos. He thereby
elevated the resources of Lavan and brought made them “dwellings” for
the light of holiness.
He was now a suitable vessel
for the light of Tohu. As the Zohar declares (2:155a): Blessing does
not dwell in an empty place… Now that Yaakov’s place was fully cultivated,
the blessing of Tohu could dwell in him. He was ready for a monumental,
cosmic event: the unification of Tohu and Tikkun.
He was ready for the Messianic
era, when the world would reach its perfection and ultimate purpose. Hence
the Midrash’s (BR 75:6) enigmatic comment on Yaakov’s words, and I
gained ox and donkey—“the donkey refers to King Moshiach, as it is
written, a poor man riding on a donkey (Zachariah 9:9).”
Yaakov was living in a messianic reality.
the messengers returned to Yaakov saying, “We came to your brother Eisav
and behold he is coming towards you, four hundred men in his company.
The messengers were saying
to their master: Yes, from your part the unification of Tohu and Tikkun
can be achieved. But alas, your brother Eisav remains undevelped. How,
then, can he share with you the light of his source, while he remains
trapped in its earthly manifestation?
To support their assertion,
the messengers referred to the 400 men in Eisav’s company. The root of
these 400 men was the 400 silver shekels that Avraham had paid
to Ephron for the Cave of Machpelah. While in the hands of Avraham,
these coins reflected the “400 worlds of longing” that the righteous are
destined to inherit. Their transfer to the hands of Ephron was an investment
of holiness into the mundane for the purpose of retrieving them in the
Messianic era when “death will be swallowed forever” and G-d “will remove
the spirit of impurity from the earth.” Until their retrieval, the coins
reflect the “400 courts of harsh judgment.”
Yaakov was aware of the fact
that Eisav was accompanied by 400 men. But he assumed they were the personifications
of the 400 worlds of longing; he was informed by his messengers that they
were in fact the embodiment of the 400 courts of harsh judgment (Vayishlach
And he split
his camp into two…
When Yaakov realized that
he would not be receiving the light of Tohu through Eisav, he took measures
to elicit the light of Tohu on his own. (In this way he would also be
protected from the dangers of the physical Eisav.)
These measures would have
to mirror the world of Tohu. His first measure therefore was to split
his camp into two, the number associated with Tohu. Tikkun, by contrast,
is characterized by the number three.
The sefiros of Tohu exist
in two separate realms: the right and the left. Each sefirah exists independent
of the other, whereas in Tikkun each sefirah is a conglomerate of all
the others. This conglomeration is not possible in Tohu, since the vessels
of Tohu are too small to contain opposites. Kindness, in Tohu, is pure
and unrestrained kindness. The same for severity, and so on—like a narrow
mind that cannot accommodate two opposing concepts. If it is inclined
toward merit, it will be unable to see judgment. If it is inclined to
judge, it will see no room for merit. It can find merit or judgment, right
or left, but never both at once. This is the world of Tohu, the world
But in Tikkun, the right and
the left are harmonized into a third realm. Even in judgment there can
be a thought toward merit. For in Tikkun the light is less intense and
the vessels more expansive. The expanded vessel allows for the coexistence
of opposing views—like an expanded mind that can accommodate opposites.
This is the world of Tikkun, the world of three.
(The world of Tikkun is conceived
of as three realms: right and left, and the center realm, which combines
the other two. Hence the Jewish people, who stem from the world of Tikkun,
say, Holy, holy, holy!—three times. Similarly, G-d says of them
that they are a nation of “segulah”—literally translated as “special”—which
alludes to the Hebrew vowel segol (e as in chessed), which
is represented by three dots in an upside-down triangle.)
In order to elicit the infinite
light of Tohu, Yaakov split his camp in two, mirroring the two-dimensional
world of Tohu.
he took from what he had accumulated [to use as] a gift for Eisav his
brother, two hundred she-goats…
The word the Torah uses for
gift, is mincha, the same word used to describe Hevel’s
sacrifice, And G-d turned to Hevel and his mincha (Gen. 4:4). On
the mystical level, Yaakov’s gifts to Eisav were also sacrifices, like
those offered in the Holy Temple. But because these sacrifices were meant
to elicit the lights of Tohu, they did not need to conform to the conventional
method of the sacrifices described in the Torah. For the rules of the
Torah apply in the world of Tikkun alone; Tohu is not restricted by these
Hence Yaakov’s sacrifices
consisted of live animals, whereas those of the Torah are performed with
slaughtered animals. (The slaughtering itself is not part of the sacrificial
service as evidenced by the fact that even a non-priest can perform the
slaughtering (Berachos 31b).) Similarly, some of the animals he
sent were not kosher, namely camels, whereas Torah sacrifices consist
of kosher animals only.
For Tohu exists beyond the
laws of the Torah, just as in the future when the pig will become kosher;
when the infinite light is revealed, the pig will be capable of elevation,
unlike now, in the world of Tikkun.
In this way Yaakov prepared
himself to elicit the lights of Tohu through his meeting with Eisav. Indeed
when they met, Yaakov bowed before Eisav, who then hugged and kissed Yaakov.
The two brothers cried tears of joy. All of this is a description of the
unification of Tohu and Tikkun that took place then, the reunion of two
brothers who had been estranged for a time.
It is known that Yaakov is
Tiferes, beauty. True beauty is produced by the blending of varied colors.
Yaakov, then, represents harmony, the unification of opposites (see previous
(Thus when Yaakov brings wine
to his father, he mixes water into the wine (Zohar 3:189a). Wine represents
a fiery yearning for transcendence, ratzo. Water, which flows downward,
represents a downward flow, shov. Yaakov, harmony, combines these
two opposing movements in a perfect balance. Hence one of the musical
notes on the phrase he brought him wine (Gen. 27:25) is a “double
note” (mercha kefula on the word lo), alluding to the ability
of Yaakov to unite two opposing forces.)
it is Yaakov who effects the unification of Tohu and Tikkun [on the root
level], paving the way for his descendants, opening the channels for them
to effect the elevation of the seventy nations and the fallen sparks of
Tohu throughout history.]
through the exiles and worship of his descendants the elevation of the
sparks has already been achieved [as of the year 5752 (1991)]. (That the
Messianic era had not yet commenced is an inexplicable phenomenon.)
Divine worship that we engage in now is no longer for the sake of elevating
the sparks. This is in the past. Today we seek to effect the actual revelation
of the Messianic reality in the physical world. May we merit it today
(Vayishlach 5752 p. 163).
& [Adapted and
summarized by Rabbi Yosef Marcus from Torah Ohr, Vayishlach.]
a discourse of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, "the Alter Rebbe."